Liberals refuse to take action to protect youth in care

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DOWNTOWN-EASTSIDE-VANCOUVERVICTORIA— Despite a damning report into the life and death of Paige, a child in the government’s care – the B.C. Liberals plan to continue to throw vulnerable youth out of care and on to the street as soon as they turn 19 say New Democrats.

“Paige was forced out of care at age 19. Her foster parents were instructed by the Ministry of Child and Family Development to package up her belongings into garbage bags and drop them off at her school,” said Doug Donaldson, the New Democrat spokesperson for children and families.

“We asked the minister to promise to never let that happen again. She refused.”

Paige’s life and death was chronicled in a report from B.C.’s Independent Representative for Children and Youth. The report, Paige’s Story: Abuse, Indifference and a Young Life Discarded, outlines the many ways the B.C. Ministry of Child and Family Development failed Paige during her short life.

The report shows she was the subject of more than 30 child protection reports, and was moved up to 50 times between foster homes, safe houses, homeless shelters and detox centres between the ages of 16 and 18. When she turned 19 she was kicked out of her foster home. She died just 11 months later.

“The minister says supports for youth aging out of care are sufficient, yet those supports were clearly not good enough for Paige, who died just 11 months after she aged out of care,” said Jennifer Rice, New Democrat deputy spokesperson for children and families.

“By refusing to extend supports for vulnerable youth past the age of 19, the B.C. Liberals are making a choice, a choice to continue failing children like Paige.”

Donaldson noted that while ejecting Paige from care was just one of the many ways that the government failed her, allowing her to stay with her foster parents after the age of 19 could have saved her life. Both Alberta and Ontario have extended supports for youth in care past age 19.

“More needs to be done, not just when children are aging out of care, but every step of the way,” said Donaldson. “We have to learn from Paige’s life and death. That means moving beyond platitudes to real action that can improve the lives of children who have been repeatedly failed by this government. Extending supports for children in care past age 19 is just one of the ways we can show we learned from the loss of this young life.”